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Ex-glass plant staging area for thousands Telsa vehicles being shipped to customers
Thousands of Tesla are shipped to and shipped out of Lathrop every week.

Tesla is using Lathrop as a jumping off point for ramped up weekly production of 5,000 Model 3 electric cars at their Fremont factory.

The Palo Alto-based company – which purchased a portion of the old New United Motors manufacturing plant in Fremont when Toyota announced that they were shutting down production – has turned the unused portions of the old Pilkington float glass manufacturing plant in Lathrop into a temporary storage facility for its completed vehicles as they await shipping. 

The notoriously secretive company worked out a contract with Reynolds and Brown – the owners of the property – with some assistance from the City of Lathrop to facilitate the outdoor storage. 

And for the last month, Louise Avenue has been buzzing with car haulers that are loading up vehicles from the facility and taking them back onto nearly Interstate 5 to be delivered elsewhere – sometimes lining up inside of the complex. 

It isn’t just the mass production Model 3 that is being temporarily housed in Lathrop, either. One truck that pulled out of the former manufacturing plant on Thursday had a number of covered and uncovered Model X vehicles – the crossover with “falcon doors” that open out much the same way that they do on high-end sports cars, and the old DeLorean – as well as a number of full-sized Model S sedans. 

They’re even visible from the street – lines and lines of Tesla vehicles glimmer in the valley sun while others are covered as they await their final destination. 

According to Business Insider, it is believed that several thousand of the popular electric cars are sitting on the blacktop in Lathrop, and just as many in a similar location in Burbank down in Southern California.

“We use Lathrop as a loading hub for cars being shipped to other locations for deliver to customers,” Business Insider reported a Tesla spokesperson stating. “As our deliveries increase, we’re obviously going to have more cars there.” 

That means per capita, given the city’s population of 24,000, there are more Teslas in Lathrop than anywhere else on the planet. Fremont where the Tesla assembly line is operated has 233,126 residents while Burbank has 105,000 residents.

Unlike other car manufacturers that have dealers across the country that can floor models that are later sold to customers, Tesla relies only on brick-and-mortar storefronts to sell their vehicles, meaning that they to be stored somewhere. With limited space at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, places like Lathrop – where Tesla has a manufacturing facility – serve as a temporary staging area. 

The glass plant once produced auto glass for Toyotas and GM vehicles produced at the former NUMNI plant.

The unique use of the property is just another way that the shuttered glass manufacturing facility is once again becoming a daily destination. 

According to the Northern California chapter of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, Reynolds and Brown and Jones Development Company acquired the 1 million square foot industrial building and  grounds for $11.75 million in August of 2015 after it had been shuttered for two years. Almost one year after acquiring the property, the new owners announced that Kraft Heinz would be leasing 723,000 square feet of the complex to serve the distribution center for its tomato processing facilities throughout the area. 

Tesla made international headlines back in 2014 when it was announced that they would be leasing the 431,000-square foot warehouse visible from Interstate 5 that used to serve as a Mopar distribution facility on Harlan Road in Lathrop. 

The exact use of the building was not disclosed by the company, but at the time of the announcement all signs pointed towards manufacturing – a number of jobs that were listed on the company’s website called for CNC machine operators and technicians. 

 To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.